The latest ranking of US states for the solar friendliness of their utilities and grids has been released, with California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Utah picked out for special praise.
The 'Freeing the Grid' report, by the solar advocacy group Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, marked states’ net metering policies and the ease of interconnection to the grid.
Net metering grades looked at several criteria including the presence and size of a cap and whether excess electricity produced could be rolled over to the next month. The interconnection grading process looked at how transparent, simple and fair the rules are for consumers looking to plug a PV system into the grid.
California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Utah all received an A-grade for both net metering policy and interconnection rules.
Oklahoma, Georgia and South Carolina were sent to the naughty step with none achieving better than a D in either category.
Washington state was also praised for vastly improving its interconnection procedures.
Those without a state-wide net metering policy were excluded.
Net metering remains controversial in the US. Households with installed solar can export power to the grid and run their meter backwards. It is argued that this leaves higher grid costs for households that don’t have solar panels. Vote Solar has claimed that the cost to other consumers has been greatly exaggerated.
Many utilities are actively campaigning against the system. The Arizona Competition Commission is looking into whether PR campaigns against net metering have been funded using rate payers’ money.
California recently signed new legislation to bolster the scope of its net metering programme.
An introduction to the Vote Solar/IREC rankings